NEWARK, N.J. – It wasn't unfair for a jury to see cellphone video of a man being stomped to death in the suspect's murder trial, a New Jersey appeals court ruled while upholding the man's prison sentence.
Dwayne Johnson had argued the video of the January 2013 fight in Newark unfairly influenced jurors, but a three-judge appeals panel rejected that argument and ruled that the video was crucial to the jury's decision to convict him of first-degree murder in the death of Terrence Everett.
The video showed Johnson beating and repeatedly kicking Everett while he was on the ground. He is then seen rifling through the man's pockets before leaving.
"The fact that the video was disturbing and upsetting does not detract from the fact that it was legitimately a part of the state's proof of defendant's criminal state of mind," the judges said in their written ruling.
Johnson also questioned an expert's finding that the man died because of the beating in his appeal of his conviction and 54-year prison sentence. His attorney argued that the victim was overweight, had a heart condition and was on PCP.
Prosecutors said at the time that Johnson and Everett were friends but began an argument after Johnson's girlfriend asked Everett for cigarettes. Everett later punched Johnson's girlfriend in the head, police said.
Johnson attacked Everett the next month and a passer-by captured video of the attack on their cellphone.